In my riding (Hastings-Prince Edward), 66% of votes cast supported the status quo, with only 34% favouring the recommended MMP system. The province-wide results were similar. Most people would recognize that as a resounding defeat for MMP, but not MMP supporters. Here's what The Community Press quoted Wilf Day, a regional representative of Fair Vote Canada, saying about the referendum:
- A public education campaign should have begun last May as soon as the Citizen's Assembly released its report.
- Elections Ontario representatives didn't quote from or refer to the assembly's report while making public appearances to inform voters. "They were so busy being neutral, they didn't say anything at all".
- "There is no doubt in my mind that the public was not properly informed. There were voters who were unaware of the referendum, including one who was surprised to be handed a second ballot on election day and another who replied "Conservative" when asked if they had voted for MMP."
- "I'm not saying everyone that voted in the referendum was uniformed. However, a general public reaction against the MMP proposal would have resulted in more voters casting a ballot. If voters were motivated to reject the referendum there would have been a larger turnout."
- Day interprets the referendum result to mean "people didn't know what they were voting on."
OK - let's see if I got this straight. A solid rejection by 66% of the voters means that the voters didn't know what they were doing and needed more "education" to arrive at the "correct" decision. Furthermore, Elections Ontario (the non-partisan arms-length organization responsible for the referendum) should not have been strictly neutral on this issue and should have advocated for one side. And, despite the 66% vote against the proposal, the result can be ignored because the overall low voter turnout means that in general, voters weren't "motivated to reject" MMP.
I'm trying to imagine a scenario where Fair Vote Canada and its ilk would have raised the alarm if the results had been reversed. If, under exactly the same circumstances, the referendum had delivered 66% support for MMP, Wilf Day would be giving interviews about the triumph of democracy and the collective wisdom of the voters. Sorry, Wilf - the people have spoken, and two-thirds of them didn't like your half-baked scheme. Get over it.